A Guide to Going Gluten & Dairy Free

By: Bob's Red Mill | October 22 2017
There are tons of reasons that people decide to eat gluten free, dairy free, or even both. It has become known as the “anti-inflammatory diet” in some circles because a common cause for going both gluten and dairy free is digestive inflammation or discomfort. This can seem like the ultimate double-whammy of diet plans, but never fear! There are more and more options on the market every day for gluten free and dairy free eaters, and the world of foods is full of delicious alternatives. Keep reading for a helpful guide to removing gluten and dairy from your diet without any growing–or eating–pains.

What Is Safe?

The anti-inflammatory diet is similar in some ways to the paleolithic diet, but with some slight differences. Fruits and vegetables are all gluten and dairy free, so stock up on your greens and your fruits if you want to follow a gluten and dairy free diet. Contrary to your first instinct, fresh eggs are both gluten and dairy free as well . . . is anyone already thinking omelets? Just me? Okay . . . well, you can feel free to stock up on meats as well, because most those are all safe. Remember, you don’t have to go completely vegan just because you want to follow a gluten and dairy free diet. You will still want to read labels for any processed meats, some sausages and deli meats contain gluten and dairy. Most breadings are not gluten free, so make sure you do not pick up meats that have additional seasonings or breading. Gluten is technically found in wheat, barley, and rye, so definitely avoid those options, but other grains should be fine, including corn, quinoa, and rice. Be careful though, as some mills process all of these grains together. Whenever it comes to processed foods, always be sure to read the label, especially in baked goods. You should make sure your grains, especially your oats are tested gluten-free to be 100% sure. Almost all of Bob's Red Mill grains are tested gluten free, and the indication is right there on the package for you. Overall, you should be excited because this is a fairly large list, and does not even begin to cover the gluten free and dairy free substitute foods that are out there these days.

What Is Not Safe?

Obviously, if you are eating gluten free and/or dairy free, you should not eat gluten or dairy products. This can be especially hard when it comes to processed foods and baked goods like bread and pastries. Unfortunately, it is not always obvious which foods contain gluten or dairy. As we mentioned earlier, gluten is contained in wheat, barley, and rye, as well as a few other less common grains. You should definitely avoid these, and any foods that are processed within the same areas or with the same equipment as these glutinous grains. You also find gluten in most baked goods, including bread, pastries, cookies, cakes, and pretzels, to name a few. Gluten is typically used to create a "sticky" texture in dough, so almost anything that comes from dough will likely have a little bit of gluten in it. Dairy is slightly different, and a little more obvious. If you want to avoid all dairy, just think about whether it has milk in it, and go with items that do not. This will include yogurt, milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, and other products containing milk. If you have an allergy to casein or lactose, then you will likely have to check the ingredients when dealing with substitutes, because some may contain one or the other. It's always a good idea to read ingredient lists, as milk products, in one form or another, appear in some surprising places. Luckily today, there are so many alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk, making it easy for you to stip to your non dairy and gluten free diet.


As we covered already, acceptable contamination levels will depend on your exact circumstances, but if you do have an allergy, this is a very important piece. You should watch out for cloths and sponges, as they can trap gluten. Ask your household members to allot a totally separate section of the refrigerator for gluten free products, and a counter entirely for gluten free foods only. You will also likely want to get your own toaster if you use one often. Washing your dishes and silverware is typically okay, but do not overlap when you are preparing foods with gluten in them alongside gluten free foods. The same rules can generally go for dairy as well, just watch your butter and cooking sprays to make sure you use the dairy free one.

Positive Effects

If you have an allergy or intolerance, then we do not even need to cover the positive aspects of this diet–we can all assume that it is worth the switch to avoid the allergic symptoms. However, if you are on the edge of going gluten and dairy free (and as an added bonus to folks with allergies), you will be surprised at the positive side effects of this diet. Many people report feeling more energized and less lethargic after starting this diet. Due to the lack of processed grains and fats, many people also happen to lose weight, although that is highly dependent on your overall habits. Dairy can be tough for almost anyone to process sometimes, so even if you are not highly intolerant, you will likely see some increased gastrointestinal comfort when you make the switch as well. No matter what your reason for making the diet switch is, you will definitely want to keep it up once you start noticing these benefits.

Eating Out

Eating out can be tough on almost any diet plan. Even with 100% pure intentions, it is sometimes tough to see which items will contain gluten or dairy and which will not. Butter is a tricky situation in itself–restaurants love to slather their vegetables in it to make them extra flavorful, but you will not immediately notice that on the menu. There are apps that will tell you about restaurants in your area that are gluten free or dairy free, full of reviews from others with celiac or intolerances. This is a great start, but coming in with a plan is the best way to prevent any mistakes from happening. Call ahead to the restaurant, and discuss your concerns with the most senior person you can find (the chef is available, in many cases). This way, you know which dishes you will be able to eat safely, and the restaurant has a head’s up you are coming. Reiterate your concerns when you arrive, and it is typically easiest just to refer to your plan as an “allergy” in case people get confused. Salads will be safest in most cases, but you want to make sure the ingredients are kept away from gluten or dairy ingredients if you can. It may help to bring your own dressings or condiments when you eat at restaurants, as these can be contaminated. Overall, going gluten and dairy free for any reason will probably require a good bit of planning and persistence on your part. Most likely you will have a few stumbles along the way, but in the end, the positive effects on your body are likely to outweigh any negative issues from the beginning. Be patient with yourself and do your research. One of my favorite tips is to plan tons and tons of snacks in advance. Snacking is the most difficult part of being on any new meal plan, in my opinion, so if you cover that base before you even come to it, you will find that you’ll have fewer cravings and if a restaurant meal does not work out for some reason, you will not be completely starving by the time you get home. With a little preparation and guidance, your dairy free and gluten free eating habits will be in place in no time!

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  1. Tonia Vargo
    I just started gluten and dairy free living. I need ideas and help
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Tonia! We highly recommend you search our recipe section for ideas. You are also welcome to call our customer service team to get detailed help with any question you may have about recipes or products. You can reach them at 800-349-2173.
    2. Sarah
      I LOVE Red Mill products! I am able to eat dairy, but gluten sensitive. I not only lost weight going mostly gluten free, but I feel better after I eat, I hardly ever get sick, and my arthritis is almost GONE! Best thing I learned is where to find hidden gluten! In spices (anti-caking agents), preservatives (deadly), and sadly protective/shiny coatings on produce, as well as any thickening agents (I think "emulsifiers" in ice cream and salad dressings. "Natural flavorings" are a big NO-NO and caramel color or food coloring, but "annato" is supposed to be a natural coloring from carrots (I believe). Best of luck and enjoy RED MILL!!
  2. Susan Dixon
    I need gluten and lactose free diet HELP!
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Susan! We are here to help! We have a recipe specialist on site that will help you with all of your questions concerning gluten and lactose free cooking. You can reach her at 800-349-2173.
  3. Kim Shuster
    I been struggling with stomach issues for 25 years I’m considering going gluten-free dairy free diet do you have a suggestion. How too start.?
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Kim, we highly recommend you consult a doctor before going gluten and dairy free. They will be able to help you in more detail. Good luck and we appreciate you trusting us with your health.
  4. Celeste
    Dairy and celiac disease. Need options including fast food for a treat and Dunkin’ Donuts kind of options.
    1. Teresa Trent-Brumbaugh
      Teresa Trent-Brumbaugh
      There is plenty of information on the web regarding recipe's but-this is called sacrifice for the better and you can do this, if you try not to give into excuses and temptations. They will always be there to help you fail.
  5. Amy Bell
    Thank you for the information. Due to UC I need to go wheat & dairy free. This is especially tough for me as I am a huge fan of all things bread/bakery. I picked up some of your Almond flour yesterday and am looking forward to "baking" a new way...mixing in some coconut flour as well.
  6. Cathy Jean Roberts
    Cathy Jean Roberts
    Thank you so much...very helpful.
  7. Helena G Rubinstein
    Helena G Rubinstein
    I have been gluten and dairy free as well as sugar free for over twenty years. I will soon turn 65. Were you to see me, I have not one gray hair, I have the face and body of a young woman.
  8. Mary
    Good article though I disagree with your comment that dairy is more obvious. It can be hidden in ingredients just as much as gluten. Plus, most restaurants are very conscious of gluten free, but many servers have no idea if items have dairy or not, and often do not even know how to recognize it. Unfortunate, as there are four times as many people in the U.S. who suffer severe physical distress from lactose intolerance than those who suffer severe physical distress from celiac/gluten intolerance. Gluten just gets more press because many people choose to be gluten free though suffer no severe impact if they do eat it.
  9. Patrice Hale
    M on gluten/lactose free.REALLY need help/receipes when I crave sweets or snacks!
    Thank you kindly,Patrice Hale.
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Patrice, you can browse our recipe site for ideas. I've narrowed the results for you here, they are all gluten and dairy free. On the left right of the screen you can further narrow your results by category.

      Bob's Red Mill Recipes: Gluten Free and Dairy Free
  10. Betty A Barr
    Very informative
  11. Joy McClendon
    Enjoyed article and I love your selection of grains and flours
  12. Sheri
    I’m here because my 6 yo autistic son has EOE and we have been told to eliminate wheat and dairy from his diet. He’s already extremely selective in what he eats and I’m try to wrap my mind around how to do this! Help!!!
  13. Kelsie
    Sheri, my nephew has sensory issues (slightly autistic) and does a type of occupational therapy to help introduce him to new foods. He was on a beige diet (anything that was bread based) before he started and is now doing wonderfully. It can still be a chore some times, but it has made a huge difference. My family cut out synthetic dyes and use more natural products in tandem with diet changes. Slower process but not as stressful to him.
  14. Susan
    I need support to stay dairy and gluten free in a household with dairy and wheat lovers! My boyfriend eats a pint of ice cream every night. My daughter is a chocolate lover. Help! I went totally free of these things 10 years ago and felt fantastic. I fell "off the wagon" by eating a piece of chocolate cake at a party and it's been bad ever since. Advice?

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